JAVA LORDS Open Mic (L5P)

Tuesday night was a very fun time. I started the evening at home with my wonderful sweetheart and then ventured to JAVA LORDS in Little Five Points of The ATL for an open mic read.

I have had this unusually strong sense of place of late and have been writing of Atlanta and Georgia and America. Before departing the house, I watched a wild Of Montreal video (they are actually of ATHENS, GA and are my current favorite band). Along the way to L5P, I listened to the long-defunct ATL art rock band “BOB” (FYI: not nearly the same as the current local rapper of the same moniker). I was feeling my StreetLocal vibe and dressed to the nines in pink and tan.

Open mic at some places means strictly singer-songwriter, but Andrew hosts this event and also encourages poets and comedians. Also, JAVA LORDS is a coffeehouse with alcohol, which always adds a dimension to the room. I had a quick margarita at the wonderful EL MYR, next door, and then signed up to perform in the tenth spot.

The music was entertaining, especially the angst-fueled stuff by a singer/guitarist named Owen. A young singer/guitarist named Luke played a fun melody of Billy Joel’s Piano Man and an original he had written.

One poet other than I read. Missed his name, but he stands barefoot on a log, propped also by a wooden walking stick. His stuff had heart and seemed to me a call for a return in spirit to the simpler times in the South’s storied past – I saw him as a sort of modern day Walt Whitman.

More music while the “to go” nachos from EL MYR were ingested and washed down with a house drink called Spring Break, and then my time to shine came, and I did, reading 3 poems about Atlanta. The first was of my romance with MARTA trains (“I Have a Romance with the Subway”); the second was of Atlanta’s deserved title as Strip Club Capital of the World (“ATL-Strip”); and the third was “A-Town.”

And here are the last two lines of that final piece:

Frankly My Dears

I Do Give A Damn

…And I really do. May peace be with you! Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I found $11 on the floor.

Truman Show (Death Cab for Cutie at Fabulous Fox)

He has a mohawk, this dog. Truman is half UGA English Bulldawg and half Shih Tzu – a “Bullshit” – and his daddy had just moved him to Midtown ATL and was taking him for a walk near the Fabulous Fox.

Financial snafus had recently resulted in his daddy, my apartment sub-leaser in Atlanta, missing a Death Cab for Cutie show in which he had tickets, waiting in vain at will call, in New Orleans, while he was stuck in Mobile, where he was relocating from. And Truman is the biggest pimp on Bourbon Street, but that is another story.

Picture this. Today Truman and his daddy are on a walk, side of The Fox. And Death Cab’s lead guitarist, Chris Walla pops up near his bus to meet the four-legged mohawked star.

Ensuing went like this: ATL, Fox, Free Tickets, 5th row, great show. I was there too, man. How many cuties filled the place in body, with their lilting voices, as Ben Gibbard encouraged them to sing the chorus for him? Oh, those Southern Belles. They would follow their men through the dark, to the afterlife.

Romantic love expressed in big thoughtful words, carried by palatable punchy chord structures that are all about moments. Big, powerful drum moments, bass boom tricks, winding guitar riffs. Of Seattle, Death Cab is more child of REM, the Smith’s, the Replacements than of Nirvana and the legion of always predictable 1990’s grunge negativists that were of that ilk. They aren’t afraid to be fun and it shows.

This night the band emanated a sense of big show comprehension. It was a blossoming performance full of momentum and harmonic energy.

The Fox is just plain gorgeous, y’all. And the light show indicated money, the ultimate sign of big record label trust and hope. Death Cab gave the guys in the suits behind them a huge reason to smile with the ultimate success of this show. Large engaged audience, delighting to an “on” band. They were really on…and it was spring in The ATL, so y’all know we were “on.”

The lovely, artsy couple next to us were also guests of Chris Walla; he had met the her of the two that morning at the bank in which she works. America can be cool sometimes.

Transcendent Funk

Thinking about the transcendent nature of art a lot lately. I contemplate the re-write of my manuscript-that-will-be-masterpiece novel while in the friendly skies; I stare at an otherworldly sculpture garden in the swelter of Mid-City New Orleans; I trip on the surrealistic paintings of Matthew Peck in his gallery in the French Quarter; I marvel at rocket ships of ATL architecture from a rooftop in the sky. And my hips sway to the sounds when I hear them.

My sexy girlfriend danced in front of me. We’d had a bit of a bad day before ENTROPY took to the stage at the 420fest in Candler Park of Atlanta. This was before the flight, before New Orleans. It was a spring festival in the capital of the south – nothing new to me about that. Heck, it was our second festival in two days. It was a writer’s work day, and I was not in the mood. My sublease had suddenly dissolved, and I was stuck in a financial muck causing me to question.

Then frontman Rod had a suggestion: Dance your troubles away. ENTROPY is black and white and modern and classic. They represent the funk in America now. And we still want the funk.

Rod fired us up, shook us from our winter slumber. And then Slappy took over – he as charismatic a guitar instigator as exists. And the stage was full with up to ten total people at a time…all with one cause: To get you out of your funk. And suddenly we were drunk on the sounds, the excitement. It worked, man, it works.

Rob Robinson is more pounding drum machine than human being. Steve Boyd from Parliament joined to add an undeniable credibility. Rod’s daughter did not let being on crutches stop her from making the show a family affair.

And we were one again. My girl and I moved together to the beat. The crowd moved together to the beat. One nation under a groove.

My New York State of Mind

The Q33, through Queens, Queens Boulevard

And Calle Columbia which was thick

Entourage none, solo Han convention

Did I forget to mention my intention

Sell book soon, agent and sell book and

I really love this story, it’s the story of my life and

NYC from The ATL to sell a book about LA and SF and the rest of Cali

Free plane tickets for volunteering to bump with Buck in The Big Easy

Free couch surf but first, it was Jackson Heights-Roosevelt, then train

Downtown to NoLita, Houston and Mott, via Grand Central

Changing trains at Grand Central Station, rush hour, the sensation

the crush, the pulse, the beat of life – City Life – the beat of life

Like the Chrysler spike spiring and awe inspiring in the afternoon sun

I had fun. A good convention. I had schwagger. I walked a lot, saw a lot

Met the agents and pitched and it was well received

And it was The City – Manhattan – the center of the known universe

I was working in New York City for the first time

And that is what New York’s about:

try and hustle and heart and try and pizza and people and art and life

Julie C. May at pb&j (Kirkwood-ATL)

Friday March 20th was the opening for photog Julie C. May at pb&j Gallery in the Kirkwood district in Atlanta, GA. They have been in business for two years. And the charming little village as a whole is doing quite well and now has most of your major urban needs condensed for you into a couple of blocks – so Atlanta, y’all. Please Go!!!

Hailing from the Beverlywood area of LA for the past ten years, Julie C. May has meanwhile toured the world in pursuit of great shots. The front room at this quaint, super-cute gallery is full of her selected finds. It runs through May 3rd.

Featured locations: Venice, Italy…Russia…Berlin…Poland…Puerto Rico…St.Kitts…CHI-Town…the girl really gets around. Her photography, shot in black and white with a 1976 Nikon and in shiny-today-digital-color, has so much life. As she says: “Every wrinkle tells a story.” These photos capture people “not reacting, living.”

Not much for self-promotion, the striking and radiant Julie C. May instead chooses to focus on her true passion – her business.  She founded the “Unscene Tour” to give a sense of home and a big boost to emerging photogs across the nation.  Check it: www.unscenetour.com

Back to the show, my companions were my adorable girlfriend, Jami Buck and my uber-hip Bromance from Cafe Intermezzo (via Cali), Duane. I wore lime green seersucker and a white belt and spring was underway. Spritzers are nice and so are almonds and art. Check it: www.facebook.com/hanvance

May got into photography originally “to get more boys to flirt with me.” Provocatively sexy statement for a married woman, I thought. Duane and I were the best heterosexual options on this night, as “the boys” were out in full force to support the gallery and kick back some free wine. They dress quite well, too. Check it: www.facebook.com/bobburkhart    (the b of pb&j)

From elderly Venetians that are clearly Old Souls to a Navyman resplendent in that one ray of light amongst the Chicago skyscrapers, personalities of people and the commonality of life experiences throughout diverse areas of the world are conveyed in a show perhaps more about face than space.

And then my baby paid half for me to get a small piece of Jack Simmonetta’s stuff. He is the j of pb&j. Just thinking to myself I was: the thousands of colors of blue are a nice color, and it is getting late.

So we said bye and headed to Poncey-Highlands for a post-pre-party at my babe’s townhouse, with too much of that Absolut Mango vodka and yet another adorable Jaimie, and then the four of us were up the street to the basement of the Highland Inn for the single best dance party in town. We listened to the Detriot to ATL transplanted rapper Stewart House along the way. And then we finally hit the dancefloor.

Mountain Men

Copyright © 2008 HV

 

“So you’re a friend of Hillbilly,” they all say.

 

Brian Southard is Hillbilly, and the answer is one of my best. He owns the company. They sell protection for “yer ass.” Pads, man. Some of us need them. Not me. Not today. I ride longboard all the time. I skate, but I’m not strapping one of those on tonight. I’ll leave that to the pros.

These boards have bindings for your feet. Mountain bike-like, shock-bounce and wheels that appear almost as if those of a Jeep had been shrunken, this is the board of the future.

And, as I mentioned, the pros are here. From Utah and P-A and outside Johnson City, Tennessee and parts unknown, they are here to ride the course, to spin and twist and flip off the ramps, the tallest of which is on the ceiling of the DJ Booth. Rap only and it pounds out, much of it of The ATL variety, of course.

Theme is Tiki: long a favorite of mine. Opted out of my 1950’s green tiki shirt because we walked here from the train and it was 90 degrees out and late spring in the Deep South. Big thick white T-shirt sweats better, dries better, and I found out how much today on this sweatfest of a labyrinthian hike that Alex from Russia and I took.

By car, then foot, then bus, then train, then foot, then train, then foot, then even more foot we saw Atlanta in all her daytime, hazy glory. High Museum she said and Coca-Cola she said. The Fabulous Fox she said. Twinkle she said. Twinkle, gleam, twinkle…Traffic and pollution not so pretty, but the young Russian Foreign Exchange student saw the City at her shiniest and her less than, with a man “from here.”

From the Arts Center in Midtown we walked to Downtown. From Is-That-A-New-Building-Ville…to “Not so new and under construction anymore,” as I described. Then from the neighborhoods and park where my ex-wife lived when she was just my girl to Little 5 Points. That was only after pizza and the paper in the cushy confines of Peachtree Center’s food court and two train rides. We met a few nice folks along the way.

L5P for seven minutes of Russian victory soccer in the pub, then we were back on the streets, beating our soles to the heat that came in sheets, on our way to East Atlanta. Reynoldstown was there in between, in so many ways.

East ATL and Brian did not answer from the payphone back in Little 5. We don’t know where the party is. Ask at The Earl if they, by chance, know where the Mountain Board Compound is. They don’t. Can’t dial long distance on their phones and Hillbilly is (706). Payphones are not working if more than an empty payphone coffin. A cell would have been handy today. I usually use only my home/office phone.

Think. Tatoo shop. I know Guz and he is back now, I think, doing tats in East ATL, and he knows Brian. He is working today, looking lean and sharp, and he is as nice as always. Not getting off until 8 pm, but he calls Brian for me. Directions. We walk. More ATL.

I have been here, lived here in Greater Metro Atlanta since 1976, with a few breaks for Athens and one for a year in Orlando, so when I talk of her, I talk from experience. I have worked in every major commercial district in Atlanta in my former lives. Now: I WRITE but now, now, we walk.

We walk…We walk…We walk, now. Mile after – we are exhausted – mile. We are back in the burbs basically, just way southside which means a different socioeconomic world.

Then finally, we see the Hillbilly flags a flyin’. We made it. Probably just under 15 miles on the day by foot, so some water sounds good.

At the party, the Tiki bar hives with gregarious and generous folks, having a nice evening. The rum is flowing. The beer is flowing. Lots to look at with the flips and hips, the ramps, the ladies.

And my boy Adam was there. Big Ups, Doctor Adam. Some really cool people were hanging out I admired and of course a few loudmouths that I only liked okay. I was in element.

The scene was made and the sun shifted to shade, and we talked and mingled. Kisses all around for the select few. Digits to one early and from one late…I really like the second one and the first was also pretty nice.

Conclusion is late night boy banter, just like other post-sporting events. The athletes can’t hang too much until the event is over, see, and it was by then. I would be remiss not to comment on how nice and humble these very talented athletes are. And they are good. Skinny Kenny, Big Ups. Jason, Big Ups. All the riders, Big Ups.

Check the sport out live anytime you get the chance. Good Party. Great entertainment – thanks to all the very COOL hosts and my main man Brain Southard at Hillbilly Protection Gear.

 

alex from russia

Copyright (C) 2008 

FOR HE IS RISEN – AFTER SLEEPING LATE

 

JOSEPH BRODSKY’S BROAD SKY, HIS HORIZON HIKE

 

HIS POETIC EXILE ACCEPTED, I READ-RED

 

AND I HAVE A YOUNG RUSSIAN VISITOR, NEXT BED

 

THIS OLD-BOY, YOUNG ALMOST MAN, FROM RUSSIA TO WE

 

HAS COME TO TRY AMERICA – LAND OF THE FREE

 

LIKE BRODSKY, THE PLAN WENT NOT ACCORDING TO TRICK

 

WHO KNEW? SENT TO A PLACE AS SMALL AS ITS NICK: THEO

 

THEODOSIA, MISSOURI.

 

HIS USA COUNTRY-MOUNTAIN MISERY, MOSTLY

 

SEE MY DAD HAS HALF-MOVED NOW AND LOVES IT

 

I VISITED AND WE DECIDED TO BE ANOTHER HOST FAMILY

 

NOW HIS FAMILY SET 2, THE ROWDY VANCE-BRAUM CREW

 

MARIETTA MADNESS, ATLANTA ATTITUDE, YES Y’ALL

 

DEEP SOUTH HUMIDITY, NEW SOUTH CONSCIOUSNESS

 

ST. LOUIS, HE SAW, NASHVILLE, HE SAW, THE BUS, HE SAW

 

NOW HE SEES:

 

EXCELLENT-EXILE-EXIT…STRATEGIES

 

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY BELLIES

 

ATL RAP IDIOSYNCHRONICITIES

 

SOUTHERN MAMA NICETIES

 

GIRLS WITH BIG-ASS TITTIES

 

CONVENTION; CONVICTION; CHECK THE DICTION

 

AND DON’T FORGET TO MENTION

 

THE DREAM, THE STRIVE, THE STYLE

 

THE LIFE, THE HIKE, THE BIKE, THE BLOCK, THE MILE

 

AND WE ARE THICK AS BRICKS

 

AND ONLY TWICE AS QUICK

 

LIKE A BAG OF TRICKS

 

HOPE YOU ENJOY THIS AMERICAN SCHTICK

(Photo by: Han Vance, from Art Above Underground)